Could Ryan Smyth be returning to the Edmonton Oilers in order to finish his career with the team that selected him in the first round of the 1994 entry draft?
A deal certainly isn't imminent and won't necessarily be an easy transaction for either the Los Angeles Kings or Oilers to close, but sources tell TSN the 35-year-old left winger has indicated to the Kings his preference would be to play next season in Edmonton if a trade can be worked out.
As much as the potential return of Smyth, a.k.a. Captain Canada, to Edmonton might warm the hearts of sentimentalists who so closely identify the mop-haired veteran with the Oiler franchise, there are some practical reasons why it won't be an easy deal to facilitate and there's no guarantee it will happen at all.
For starters, Smyth is an integral part of the Kings' offence. He scored 23 goals and 47 points in 82 games this past season. He's fourth on the team in goals and points and he still averaged 18:02 of icetime per game last season, third most (behind only Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown) amongst L.A. forwards.
In other words, the Kings, who are desperately seeking to upgrade their top-six forward positions, aren't about to give away Smyth for nothing. Yet they also realize market value for a 35-year-old, even one as productive is Smyth, is fairly limited.
Smyth is on the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.5 million this season although the cap hit is $6.25 million. The finances of all of this may also be an issue for the Oilers.
Sources say the Oilers' management team may only be lukewarm to the idea of Smyth returning "home." The reality is that the Oilers are in a major rebuilding phase and going with a youth movement. Adding $4.5 million to the payroll, with a $6.25 million cap hit, for a 35-year-old forward, even one with the local marquee value of Smyth, isn't a slam dunk unless the Oilers can offload some salary.
But financial considerations aside, the Oilers ultimately have to decide whether they want Smyth at this stage of his career. Some believe he's precisely the type of veteran mentor who would do a good job working alongside the Oilers' youngsters. Others aren't so sure of the merits of a potential homecoming.
The Kings and Oilers have not had substantive trade talks by any means, but both organizations are well aware of the existing situation. That is, in a perfect world, Smyth has indicated he would like to return "home" to the Edmonton Oilers.
Where it goes from here, if anywhere, remains to be seen.